The most “Alabama” thing
My good friend Blake born in Montana and now lives in Idaho. She has never been to the South, (Bless her heart!) but has some perceptions (stereotypes) about the way things are here. One of her favorite things to say to me is “That is the most Alabama thing I have ever heard!” This is her response when I refer to her mother as her “mama” or talk about fixing grits for breakfast. She also says it when I talk running fish boxes or about my neighbor’s pig that used to get out of his pen and visit my porch. I have come to expect it. It endears her to me. There are things that can’t be understood unless they are experienced.
With that said, my experience last Saturday could qualify as the “most Alabama thing ever.”
Strong storms were predicted for Saturday, but they held off and Jackson residents were able to enjoy the Depot Reunion, opening day for Little League and a fund-raiser for the animal shelter at Bigbee Coffee Roasters. Later in the afternoon, storms did move in and by that time, I was in Baldwin County.
I had dropped my daughter and a friend off at Spanish Fort Middle School for a band competition. A third teenager did not participate in the competition, so she and I went to waste some time at the Eastern Shore Centre. We were browsing in Blues Angel Music when someone rushed in shouting that the tornado sirens were sounding. With pianos and guitars being played all around, sirens are difficult to hear in that particular store. Everyone looked up and looked out of the store’s huge glass front.
It wasn’t raining, so we did the most Alabama thing ever. Every single person in the store walked outside and stood on the sidewalk. Yep. We did that. We stood outside in a tornado warning. The wind was fierce, but that was it. No hail. No lightening. No rain. I pulled my phone out and played the forecast. Sure enough, there was a tornado warning, but we didn’t see any evidence of a tornado. So, until we heard an enormous thunderclap, we stood, squinting at the sky.
Fast-moving thunder storms came within minutes. By that time, we had moved on to a book store and were hoping the weather would move quickly so that we could get back to the ones we had left at the school. I’d gotten texts from my daughter that they were okay, but I wanted to see for myself.
We were finally reunited. The two that stayed at the school recounted how all students were herded into the cafeteria during the warning and how volunteers kept them calm. We told them about stepping outside the music store. Without missing a beat, Tatum says, “You have to tell Ms. Blake about this. I can already hear her response!” We said it together, “That’s the most Alabama thing I have ever heard!”
Alabamians do have a reputation for having to see things to believe them. That’s okay by me. I appreciate hard evidence in most instances. Sometimes though, like with tornado warnings, it’s likely best to trust science.
I’ve thought about Blake’s adage. It’s somewhat cute to me, if it’s not used negatively. Alabama, like every other state, does have its flaws, but it is a special place despite what outsiders may not understand.
I think the people of Alabama are truly what set it apart from every other place. Alabamians are practical, methodical people who genuinely care for their neighbors. We are indeed opinionated on topics of government and religion. We stand our ground and don’t back away from a lively debate. We are intense football fans (not me, but most of you). Family is important to us. Having a place to call home is paramount and having people to support you is essential. These are the things that make Alabama truly special, in my opinion. These are “the most Alabama things ever.”
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.